Bulgarian Ring Dips – Muscles Worked, Technique, and Benefits

Gymnastic rings training is a key component in competitive fitness, gymnastics, and bodyweight training. Movements like muscle ups, ring rows, dips, and holds can all play a role in upper body strength, gymnastics skill, and safety during these unstable and challenging movements. The Bulgarian ring dip is a ring dip variation that can offer more advanced athletes a targeted approach to increasing chest development, shoulder stability (on the rings), and help to build injury resilience.

In this article, we will discuss the Bulgarian ring dip, what muscles it specifically targets, and the benefits of performing such an exercise.

Muscles Worked

The ring dip specifically targets the pressing muscles of the upper body. With the Bulgarian ring dip variation, many muscle groups are also targeted, however some are isolated to greater extent. The below listing is of the muscle groups that are primarily targeted from the Bulgarian ring dip, in order.

  • Pectorals
  • Anterior Deltoids
  • Triceps
  • Scapular Stabilizers
  • Core

Note, that many of these muscles are targeted in the ring dip, however the angles of the arms in the Bulgarian ring dip increase range of motion and stability demands at the shoulder joint, increasing the stretch of the muscles of the chest (and anterior shoulder).

Bulgarian Ring Dip Technique Video

In the below video the Bulgarian ring dip is performed. Note, that the demands on the shoulder (stability and mobility) are greater, and should only be done with more advanced ring athletes/lifters. Using less range of motion in the beginning stages (arms do not go to 90 degrees) is acceptable, as long as it is progressed over time.

Note, that the lifter places the rings wider as they descend with the back of the arms parallel to the floor. Upon returning to the top of the dip, the lifter brings the hands into the body as all normal ring dips require.

3 Benefits of the Bulgarian Ring Dip

Below are three (3) benefits of the Bulgarian ring dip. Note, that while some of these benefits are often seen with most variations of ring dips, they are even more so due to the unique angles of the upper body.

Upper Body Strength

For gymnastics, bodyweight athletes, and even strength/power/fitness athletes, ring dips can be a great way to add quality muscle mass (and shoulder stability) to the upper body (see muscle groups listed above). The Bulgarian ring dip is a more advanced movement progression than a standard dip/ring dip, which can further challenge muscle development.

Isolate the Pecs

While dips are a staple exercise for upper body strength training that targets the chest and triceps, the Bulgarian ring dip can drastically increased the muscular demands on the upper pectorals (and anterior shoulder). As you can see in the video above, the lifter pushes the handles slightly wider away from the body, and rotated the hands to allow the elbows to be pointed outwards. The elbows are bent so that back of the arms are parallel to the floor; which places a great amount of loading of the pectorals (chest).

Gymnastic Stability

When training on rings, shoulder stability is key for injury prevention. Movements like ring dips can often be taken to failure which may place a lifter in a less stable position. When integrating more challenging variations of the ring dip, you can work to build better stability in a wider range of motion, which can have an impact on other variations and movements as well (such as the ring muscle up). Creating stability across a wider degree of motion can help athletes broaden their injury resilience throughout more movement patterns.

How to Program Bulgarian Ring Dips

While there is no one way to train the Bulgarian ring dip, it is generally recommended that an athlete masters their bodyweight for at least 8-10 smooth repetitions prior to adding any external resistance. Prior to this, coaches and athletes can increase time under tension by setting tempo demands and pauses (at various phases of the dip).

More Ring Training Articles

Below are a few of our ring training exercise guides to help all level athletes maximize their fitness.

Featured Image: @ballofmuscle on Instagram

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Mike holds a Master's in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Mike has been with BarBend since 2016, where he covers Olympic weightlifting, sports performance training, and functional fitness. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University, in which he works primarily with baseball, softball, track and field, cross country. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs for sports performance, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.In his first two years writing with BarBend, Mike has published over 500+ articles related to strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, and fitness. Mike’s passion for fitness, strength training, and athletics was inspired by his athletic career in both football and baseball, in which he developed a deep respect for the barbell, speed training, and the acquisition on muscle.Mike has extensive education and real-world experience in the realms of strength development, advanced sports conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, and human movement. He has a deep passion for Olympic weightlifting as well as functional fitness, old-school bodybuilding, and strength sports.Outside of the gym, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and traveller, who takes annual hunting and fishing trips to Canada and other parts of the Midwest, and has made it a personal goal of his to travel to one new country, every year (he has made it to 10 in the past 3 years). Lastly, Mike runs Rugged Self, which is dedicated to enjoying the finer things in life; like a nice glass of whiskey (and a medium to full-bodied cigar) after a hard day of squatting with great conversations with his close friends and family.